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Addie Klucking donned a one-piece, white bee suit on Thursday before going out to check her family’s hives.

She pulled long gloves, sticky at the fingertips with propolis, up to her elbows. Then she adjusted the elastic pant cuffs near her boots, tied her hair back and added a wide-brimmed hat with a mesh veil encircling her head, tying the netting with thin ropes around her waist. Now she was ready to pry open the lids of the hive boxes with a J-hook hive tool and check on the bees’ progress making her favorite part of beekeeping, the honey.

Addie and her father, Joel Klucking, began attending meetings of the Beekeepers of Kittitas County in January 2013. Beekeeping grew on her.

“She’s gone from being afraid of bees to being very calm, very at home (with the bees),” Joel Klucking said.

Outside, four wooden boxes are stacked next to four more, with another stack nearby. These are the bee hives. The far hive is the Kluckings’ original hive from last year. The colony was so successful, two more started this year.

Addie opened the top of one of the hives, bees flying every which way, tarry propolis sticking to the edges. Bees make propolis from tree resin and use it to seal up cracks.

She picked up each frame, thick with honey still trapped in cells and several dozen bees.

“They’re really heavy,” Addie said.

As she went on, each frame had more honeycombs on it than the last. When the colony outgrows the boxes, another can be added on top with fresh frames. The bees just move up.

“It’s almost full, so we should probably put another box on,” she said to her father.

After Addie pulled up about six frames, Joel Klucking mentioned this was just one week’s production.

“Getting the honey is probably the best part,” Addie said.

And what do her friends think of her hobby?

“They think it’s pretty cool.”

The boys

Across town, two more young beekeepers are checking out the family hives. Caden Smith went along with his friend, Beau Breckon, and Beau’s father, Ron Breckon, to check on their hives, kept in a backyard garden among flowering squash plants and ripe raspberry bushes.

Caden wore a bee suit his grandfather passed down to him, so he was swimming a bit in the fabric. Beau’s suit looked child-sized and fit better.

Ron Breckon said the weather was decent; bright, sunny and mild. They’re close to being able to harvest honey, before Labor Day at least. Caden just began helping with the beehives this spring.

“I help my mom look for traces of the queen bee (and) look for fresh larvae and eggs,” he said. He also helps smoke the bees. A bee smoker has a flame in the bottom, and bellows to squeeze the smoke out of the top.

“It calms down the bees,” Caden said.

For Caden, the fun part is just observing.

“It’s fun to go out and see how they’re doing, how much honey they have, just go out there and check them out,” he said.

Although Beau’s interest has waned, he still knows a lot about bees. He began working with bees at age 6, two years ago. He said it’s been awhile since he visited the hives. When he goes out, he helps by looking for the queen bee, or listening to what’s going on in the hives.

“When I first did it, we actually had a swarm,” Beau said.

A swarm happens, Beau said, when there’s a queen that goes somewhere, and the whole hive follows her.

Beau said the bee suit and veil are white, so the bees calm down.

“If you wear black, they might think you’re a black bear or something,” he said.

Caden hasn’t been stung yet, but Beau has, once on his knee.

“It surprises you,” Beau said about his bee sting. “It didn’t really hurt. … Most people are afraid of bees, but it’s fun to be out with bees.”

Staff Writer, covers K-12 education, health care, the city of Roslyn, and the arts.

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